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See our guest post at the New America Foundation: Equality and Justice for All Families.

 

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1984: The Beginning

on May 24th, 2018 at 12:36:53 AM

A look back over three decades... (post #1)

Our grassroots nonprofit organization was founded in 1984 by Cheri Loveless, Linda Burton and Janet Dittmar and originally named Mothers at Home. (In 2002, the Board of Directors changed the organization's name to Family and Home Network.)

Based in northern Virginia, Mothers at Home was “devoted to the support of mothers who choose (or would like to choose) to stay home to nurture their families.” Its goals were: “to help mothers athome realize they have made a great choice; to help mothers excel at a job for which no one feels fully prepared; and to correct society’s many misconceptions about mothering.” At that time, prevailing messages to women were that they could (and should) “do it all” and that success and self-worth were to be measured by academic and workplace achievements. Media reports depicted working mothers as the epitome of the modern, enlightened women; in comparison, at-home mothers were referred to with demeaning stereotypes drawn from 1950s-era television sitcoms.

For more than three decades, we've been listening to the thoughts and feelings of tens of thousands of parents. For 22 years, we published an award-wining monthly journal - Welcome Home - written and edited by parents, for parents.

We write books and policy papers, speak up on behalf of at-home parents to media representatives and legislators, and offer workshops for new parents. We keep up with new technology to communicate with parents. 

Our focus is on the essential need for nurturing relationships, and we work to help families spend generous amounts of time together.

Back to work

on May 14th, 2018 at 6:06:15 PM

My work as volunteer executive director of Family and Home Network has been in only-the-basics mode for a while -- I was busy with managing our family move, helping to care for family elders, and spending time with grandchildren!

The volunteer Board of Directors and I have picked up the pace again this Spring - starting with behind-the-scenes work on planning and technology issues. Next week, I'll start a series of posts reviewing our grassroots nonprofit organization's three decades of work.

We focus on children's needs for warm, nurturing relationships with their parents -- and on parents' experiences and feelings as they take the time to meet their children's needs.

Thank you for sticking with us through the quiet times. Please let us know what you're thinking -- and please consider joining our team of volunteers, working to help families spend generous amounts of time together!

Parenting

on May 3rd, 2018 at 12:42:34 AM

What IS parenting?

The perspective most often taken is to look at the effects of parenting (what does parenting do to the child?). However, Alice van der Pas looks carefully from a different perspective - what is the parent's experience? She provides a powerful conceptual framework in her book, A Serious Case of Neglect: The Parental Experience of Child Rearing.

In The First Idea: How Symbols, Language, and Intelligence Evolved from our Primate Ancestors to Modern Humans, Stanley I. Greenspan, M.D. and Stuart G. Shanker, D.Phil. explain how the future of humanity depends on relationship-building. And it begins with intimate, two-way relationships between parent and child. These are the base on which a child builds relationships with others in the community, the nation, the world.

Read more here: Thinking About Parenting.

Inclusive Family Policies

on September 22nd, 2015 at 6:16:28 PM

Anne-Marie Slaughter's advocacy for better workplace policies for families (New York Times opinion piece "A Toxic Work World" 9/20/15) fails families with an at-home parent (mother or father) by pushing them out of the policy discussion. Slaughter claims that too many workplaces were designed for the "Mad Men" and "Leave it to Beaver" era and says: "Our families and our responsibilities don’t look like that anymore, but our workplaces do not fit the realities of our lives." First of all, it's insulting to families with an at-home parent to persist in comparing them to sit-com families; secondly by claiming "our families don't look like that anymore" she just erased families with an at-home parent from her policy-making concerns.

Slaughter is the President and CEO of the Washington DC think tank New America Foundation. Their own scholars have advocated for inclusive family policies - rather than policies such as universal child care which serve only some families while ignoring those who prefer to make other choices. Here is the comment I left on the Times Opinions Facebook page:

Why aren't you advocating for inclusive policies? Michael Lind summed up years of work by New America Foundation scholars in “The Next Social Contract.” He writes: “the most solvent, efficient, and equitable social contract is one based on a few simple, universal programs of social insurance.” Many other countries have been using these types of policies for years. Pointing to core American values, Lind calls for policies that confer “equal rights for all, special privileges for none.” The nonprofit organization Family and Home Network campaigns for such policies - inclusive family policies - which support parents equally regardless of how they choose to meet their income-earning and caregiving responsibilities: https://www.newamerica.org/asset-building/guest-post-equality-and-justice-for-all-families/

Hands Free Mama

on January 8th, 2014 at 3:39:09 PM

 “The time you invest in the people you love will always add up to something that matters.” – Rachel Macy Stafford

Rachel Macy Stafford is the author of Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters. Rachel is a beautiful writer, and she writes on topics dear to the Family and Home Network community: time and relationships.

Rachel tells her own story—about being buried in busy-ness—until finally she recognized the negative effects of her distractedness, her perfectionism and hurry-up habits. She started blogging about her struggles to change, and she heard from many others—mothers, fathers, grandparents, teens—all struggling with similar challenges. Rachel explains the strategies she used to "let go of my daily distractions and grasp moments of loving connection."

Not being a perfectionist myself, I wondered whether that aspect of Rachel’s story would have meaning for me. I was surprised to recognize myself in some of the scenarios Rachel recounts. I’ve certainly overcommitted to a volunteer project, obsessed with worry over things I was powerless to change, been distracted by technology.

If you’ve ever wondered “am I too busy, too distracted?” then Hands Free Mama can be an excellent guide to examining your patterns of behavior. And you can feel great about the things you're already doing to connect with loved ones. I enjoyed being reminded of the value of some things I do with my grandsons: conversations in the car, cuddling, "do nothing" time--and I found some new things to try. The stories Rachel tells, from her own life and from her blogging community, illustrate how emotional connectedness happens--in all it's messy, patched-together imperfection.

A few of the chapter titles illustrate Rachel’s journey to a less distracted life: 1. Acknowledge the cost of your distraction – Awareness; 2. Make purposeful connection – Connectedness; 3. Choose what matters – Deliberateness. There are twelve chapters, each examining a concept that Rachel dug into as she changed. She recounts powerful wake-up moments, acknowledges daily struggles, lists ideas and strategies for changing behavior and outlook, and offers suggested weekly intentions and reflections. Rachel’s belief in God was an important part of her journey, but it’s part of her personal story—I never got the sense that she expected readers to share her beliefs.

There are going to be times for most of us when circumstances conspire to drive us away from our ideals about time and connectedness. No matter how mindful we are about time, things happen. Most of us will experience periods when we are too distracted, too busy. Some families face extraordinary challenges that exhaust them and leave little leeway for deciding how to spend time. Many cultural forces push us away from a focus on investing time in the people we love.

Decades ago, when my children were young, there were books, newspapers, magazines, phones, radio and television. But when we went to the park, I couldn’t make a phone call or check my email (there was no email!). Today there are so many new ways to get distracted! But it's not only the external sources of distraction that matter, as Rachel explores in Chapter 8: Silence the Inner Critic - Acceptance. Hands Free Mama is rich in ideas and inspiration for thinking deeply about the day by day choices I make that add up to the essence of who I am.

I’m grateful for Rachel’s honesty in telling the story of her journey and for her wisdom in forgiving herself for those distracted years. Forgiveness of oneself is an all-too-rare theme in parenting books and it was especially welcome to find it througout Hands Free Mama. Change is hard, and it takes time. Rachel acknowledges this right up front and has structured her book so it can be read and put into practice one-chapter-a-month for a year. I'll be re-reading this book and recommending it to parents for years to come. I know it will inspire introspection, conversations, and best of all, more connectedness in families and communities.

- reviewed by Catherine Myers, Executive Director of Family and Home Network

Thank you to our volunteers and financial supporters!

on January 6th, 2014 at 2:20:20 AM

Before we plunge into 2014, I want to thank the people who make this work possible: our volunteer Board of Directors, Editorial Team, Social Media director, authors and photographers -- and all the donors who responded generously to our year-end fundraising appeal. Thank you all!

As the new year begins, we're reviewing our "to do" list. if you have questions, comments, suggestions -- or if you'd like to volunteer, please speak up!

Happy New Year!

-Catherine Myers, Executive Director

 

 

2013 End-of-year Appeal

on December 3rd, 2013 at 2:46:16 AM

December 2013

Dear Friends,

This has been a very good year for Family and Home Network, and we’re looking forward to a great year in 2014 – when we will celebrate our 30th anniversary!

Family and Home Network’s mission is, simply stated: we focus on helping families spend generous amounts of time together.

We’ve been thrilled to see more attention being paid recently—in policy discussions and in the media—to the impact of parenting. Research evidence shows that the most effective way to help young children is to help their parents. And 33% of parents say they want more time with their children (The Pew Research Center, “Modern Parenthood” 3/14/13).

Unfortunately, there are many work/family activists who strive to keep policymakers’ focus on getting parents to remain in the paid workforce and on providing more child care services. Media stories examine the barriers to parental employment, but not the barriers to at-home parenting.

Here at Family and Home Network we focus on parent/child time together, and on the experiences of parents who forgo or cut back on paid employment in order to care for their children. This includes at-home mothers, at-home fathers, parents who work part-time or couples who “tag-team” (working different hours so they can take turns caring for their children)—there are so many ways parents, and sometimes grandparents, care for children.

We conceptualize our work in three parts: advocacy, information and affirmation. Your support is vital in enabling us to continue our work.

Please support Family and Home Network with a generous year-end, tax-deductible donation!

Advocacy in 2013: as a result of my attendance at policy events and my questions and comments, I was invited to contribute a guest blog to a major Washington, DC think tank, the New America Foundation. FAHN’s Board of Directors worked with me on draft after draft, contributing ideas and editing. The blog post, "Equality and Justice for Families" was published on the New America Foundation website in July. And it is cross-posted on Peggy O'Mara's website (Peggy is the founder of Mothering.com and long-time publisher of Mothering magazine.)

I also wrote a letter to the editor in response to the article “Can American Women Have it All and Be Happy?” by Lin-Yi Zhou in The Forum, the quarterly magazine of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society. My letter "Parenting is Vital Work" was published in the Fall 2013 issue.

Family and Home Network offers information and affirmation for parents through our website and weekly postings on Facebook and other social media—and our collaborations with other nonprofit organizations enable us to alert parents to many timely issues. Our Transitioning Home workshops help at-home parents make the transition from a focus on career to life at home with a baby. We look at the “being” as well as the “doing” parts of at-home parenting. Essays from the archives of Welcome Home stand the test of time and continue to offer much-appreciated insight and support to new parents.

Our website serves as a clearinghouse of information for parents, as well as for media representatives and policymakers.  In 2013 we added articles about the latest scientific research on the power of emotional and social competencies, and on effective programs to strengthen parent/child relationships in order to prevent or treat trauma. On our Resource pages we provide brief notes and links on an ever-growing number of topics (don’t miss our Holiday Resources page).

Our very long “to do” list for 2014 and beyond includes: writing articles, building support for inclusive family policies among the public and policymakers, and expanding the reach of our Transitioning Home workshops. We’d love to hear your feedback, questions and ideas—and if you’d like to get involved in our work as a volunteer, please let me know!

Please help us continue to build on our decades of work: give a generous end-of-year contribution today. Thank you!

Sincerely,

Catherine H. Myers

Executive Director

P.S. We love helping parents and children. We can only continue because of the support you give with your donation (every contribution, no matter the amount, helps!).  We all work as volunteers, and we operate with a bare-bones budget (approximately $5,000/year – covering insurance, technology costs, bookkeeping services, office supplies, etc.). If you’d like more information about our finances, please let me know.

Parenting is Vital Work

on November 12th, 2013 at 5:32:12 PM

Last Spring, an article in the magazine of the honor society Phi Kappa Phi grabbed my attention: “Can American Women Have it All and Be Happy?” by Lin-Yi Zhou.

In this very long and complicated article, it was hard to sort out which issues to address in a 400-word Letter to the Editor—and for a while it sat in my “to do” pile. But I finally sent off a letter, and soon heard from the magazine’s editor, Peter Szatmary, who worked with me through several rounds of revisions. My letter to the editor was published in the Fall issue of the Phi Kappa Phi Forum with the headline “Parenting is Vital Work.”

I agree with Professor Zhou that the U.S. needs better family policies, but as I wrote in my letter to the editor: “her focus on promoting policies for mothers who pursue full-time careers leaves out mothers as well as fathers who make other choices.  Instead, policymakers could enact inclusive family policies that support parents regardless of the ways in which they meet their income-earning and caregiving responsibilities.”

If you’re interested in working with Family and Home Network on media and public policy issues, please let me know!  You can reach me by email: cmyers@familyandhome.org

-Catherine Myers, Executive Director

Attachment Play

on September 25th, 2013 at 4:28:43 PM

Play is essential for children! Kids play alone, with siblings, friends—and with their parents. This book is about parent-child play. I loved reading Attachment Play: How to solve children’s behavior problems with play, laughter, and connection. I wish the subtitle could have been even longer, acknowledging the preventative aspect of play: How to prevent or solve…. As the author, Dr. Aletha Solter says, play can foster cooperation and increase happiness.

This is a great resource for any parent (or grandparent) looking for guidance and ideas about playing with children. Don’t worry—no one is suggesting that you need to spend hours a day playing with your child. Let this book inspire you to play a little more. Read it to gain insight into the power of play and learn some guiding principles from an expert who has helped parents and children for decades. The rewards will be worth it! Exercising your play muscles will bring more laughter and joy to everyday life. It will also prepare you to help your child through difficult situations.

Dr. Aletha J. Solter is a developmental psychologist who studied with Jean Piaget in Switzerland, and later earned her Ph.D. at the University of California. She is the founder of the Aware Parenting Institute and author of several other books about parents and children.

The book is organized into three sections, with examples of parent-child play throughout. The first section offers insights into different types of play and how it can strengthen parent-child attachment. In the second section Dr. Solter explains how playing with a child can help to solve behavior problems. And in the third section, she shows how parents can use play, laughter and connection to help children deal with hardships—or prepare for upcoming events such as the birth of a sibling, a medical procedure or beginning school.

Dr. Solter offers reassurance to parents in the chapter “When You Find it Hard to Play.” She writes, “Remember that it’s never too late to initiate attachment pay even if you missed opportunities to play with your children in the past. Remember, too, that the more you play with your children, the more skilled you will become, and the more you will enjoy it. You and your children will begin to feel more connected, and your power struggles will decrease.”

Attachment Play includes information about research on play in an Appendix, as well as Summary Charts of the Nine Forms of Attachment Play, which is useful as a quick reminder/inspiration.

Transforming Family Policy Discussions

on July 15th, 2013 at 1:12:00 PM

We think it's time to transform the family policy discussion from its current focus on "working families" to one that includes all families. The New America Foundation, a Washington, DC think tank, published my guest post on Friday, July 12:

Equality and Justice for All Families

We'd love to hear what you think - please comment on the New America Foundation's blog, or here, or on FAHN's Facebook page or on Twitter.

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